I am affected by someone else’s drug addiction. Addiction and alcoholism was not a part of my life growing up. It happened to other families and far away. I did not know anything about 12-Step programs such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), NA (Narcotics Anonymous), and certainly not anything about Al-Anon or Nar-Anon and the “family disease”. Then, when my sons reached late teens, I searched for help because my attempts to control, diffuse, deflect, manage, assist, help or buy a temporary fix to their risky behavior was failing miserably. My life was getting out of control the more I tried to control them. I thought I was researching a solution to fix their problem and in so doing, I discovered I had a problem too. I was obsessed with what they were doing. This obsession has a name: co-dependency. So the help that I sought turned out to be a life-rope for me too.
In a 12-Step program that helps those who have been affected by someone else’s drinking, it is suggested you learn as much as you can about the disease. In so doing, I learned the hard reality: Alcoholism and addiction, if untreated, will lead to incarceration or death. I knew addiction was a serious problem but I didn’t know the full story. I also did not know what to do or how to help. I did not realize it was a disease. Using conventional wisdom, my mothering tendencies were not helping and in some cases were actually harming them. This kind of relationship has a name: Family disease.
The Al-Anon Family Groups taught me how to be a loving mother and still enjoy life. I learned that I did not cause the disease, could not control the disease or cure it. I continue to gain tools to help me overcome the devastating effects of this family disease. This could only happen with the experience and kindness of others who have gone before me and for this I am thankful.